When Matt Peskin first conceived the idea of the National Night Out (NNO), he had no idea it would become such a major national event in the United States, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies nationwide. Held the second Tuesday in August, the event Mr. Peskin conceived of as a way to increase neighborhood solidarity and relationships with police has grown enormously since its debut in 1984, when about 2 million people took part in local events—mostly candlelight vigils against crime. In 2011, more than 32 million people nationwide participated in a host of block parties, cookouts, and other events bringing law enforcement personnel together in celebration with the people they serve; in the years since Matt Peskin launched NNO, the national crime rate has peaked and subsequently fallen to 1960s levels.
Matt Peskin, a 1976 graduate of Penn State University with a BA in Communications and Journalism, was already involved in the fight against crime when the idea of NNO first occurred to him. Like many other Americans, he was worried about the escalating crime rate; however, he took the extra step to meet with law enforcement and community leaders to see what he could do about it. What Mr. Peskin learned was that crime is more likely to occur in neighborhoods where residents are intimidated, or apathetic, or complacent. As a result of those meetings, he formed the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) in 1981, devoted to helping neighborhood groups form effective working relationships with law enforcement to combat crime.
Still serving NATW as Executive Director, Matt Peskin belongs to the Crime Prevention Coalition of America and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well. He has been recognized by the White House, Congress, and the US Department of Justice for his contributions to safer communities. Mr. Peskin resides in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion Township and serves as the local Community Watch President.